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Andrew Williams owned three blocks of land with a home valued at ,000 (3,000 in today's money) between 85th and 86th streets Seventh and Eighth Avenues.An African American man, he lived in what would be the Upper West Side of Manhattan for more than 30 years but now - in 1855 – he was being forced to move.Up here they were living a different kind of life in New York City.’And the Seneca Village Project has since been looking for the descendants of the 264 residents of the community, unable to pinpoint what exactly happened to these families after they were forced to move.Created in 1825 when Williams first purchased his property, Seneca Village became a safe haven for Black property owners who sought to not be limited to the slums of the Five Points in Lower Manhattan where poorer African Americans lived.
The Irish were joined by a small group of Germans and the two harmoniously integrated into Seneca Village society.
Battery Park, Jones’s Wood and what would eventually become upper Manhattan were selected as tentative locations for Central with the first seeming as the most feasible because a majority of New Yorkers lived downtown.
In 1853, a plan to add 300 feet of landfill was approved but as more people began moving further north, the Battery Park location became less desirable.
Epiphany Davis, a Black store clerk and trustee of the church, paid 8 for 12 lots.
Seneca Village's Black population grew in the 1830s when neighboring African Americans from York Hill moved to the community as their own town was torn down to make room for the Croton Reservoir.
Housing conditions had been terrible for African Americans and immigrant groups in Lower Manhattan with the tight and often overly dense slums causing widespread disease and infestation.